Dorothy walked with a pronounced slump, due to several
operations on her back and hips. Occasionally she used a cane,
but she normally depended upon a walker to help her get around.
That December morning, while I waited in line with her at
the store pharmacy for her prescriptions, she looked wistfully at
a lightweight walker. "I wish I had the money for that. It's
the Cadillac of walkers."
No child wishing for a shiny red bike had ever gazed at
"wheels" with such longing. She gave a rueful glance at her old
walker that had to be lifted with every step. Like many seniors,
Dorothy lived on a meager social security check that left little
Discreetly, I checked the price of the walker and winced
when I read it. It was far more than our anemic checking account
My husband and I took Dorothy back to her apartment, helped
her inside with her sack of groceries, and promised to visit the
following day, Christmas Eve.
We returned home. An idea niggled at the back of my mind.
Could we pull it off?
Tentatively, I voiced it aloud to my husband. Could we buy
the walker for Dorothy? Alone, we couldn't afford it, but with
the help of friends, we could.
Only one problem remained: overcoming my embarrassment at
admitting that we didn't have the necessary funds on our own. My
pride took a backseat to helping a friend.
I began emailing and calling Dorothy's friends, both in the
community and in our church, explaining the situation, stressing
that any amount would help.
The money began arriving. Five dollars here. Ten dollars
there. Twenty and twenty-five.
Elated, I counted the money. With what my husband and I
could contribute, we had sufficient for the walker.
We hurried back to the store and purchased it. I bought a
card and took it to her friends to sign.
Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday. Following church services,
we drove the short distance to Dorothy's home and found her with
her brother, his wife, and two grown sons.
My husband carried in a large box topped with a bright green
bow. "Merry Christmas," he said.
Dorothy looked perplexed. "You're already given me a
present," she protested.
"This is from all your friends." I gave her the card
containing more than a dozen signatures.
She repeated every name, still not understanding.
In the meantime, Larry opened the box and put the walker
together. The surprise and pleasure on Dorothy's face shone
brighter than the Christmas star.
I looked more closely and saw that what I took for pleasure
was, in reality, joy.
"You did this for me?" she asked in an awed voice.
"We did it," I said, gesturing to the card.
Dorothy used the walked constantly, becoming very adept at
maneuvering it through grocery store aisles, at church, at doctor
appointments.That wasn't the end of the story, though